"Priced at... Rs 179, Airtel's new prepaid bundle offers unlimited calling to any network, 2 GB data, 300 SMS along with a term life cover of Rs 2 lakh from Bharti AXA Life Insurance," the company said in a statement.
Bharti Infratel, Indus Towers and American Tower Corp (ATC) are bracing for a possible hit on their tower tenancies, because of the financial strain on customers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea from the thousands of crores they need to pay the government.
Debt schemes of Franklin Templeton, which hold bonds of Vodafone Idea worth Rs 2,049 crore, have fully marked down their entire holding in the telecom company a day after the Supreme Court rejected review petitions of various telecom companies challenging its judgement in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) case.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has extended timeline for receiving comments over its consultation paper which seeks views on fixing a floor price for voice and data services on telecom networks. The deadline for filing comments and counter comments has been extended till February 28 and March 13, respectively.
The top court dismissed review petitions filed by telcos against its October 24, 2019 order that asked for inclusion of non-telecom revenues for calculating AGR. Dues, which total to Rs 1.47 lakh crore for 15 telecom companies including Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL), as per the October order, have to be paid by January 23.
Industry experts are divided over the likely outcome of the sector heading towards a duopoly with two private telcos-Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel plus one PSU- BSNL with a limited reach. While Vodafone Idea is reeling under the debt of Rs 53,000 crores as AGR payment, Airtel is better financially placed to pay its statutory dues of Rs 35,000.
“Government companies have a different clause than telecom companies,’’ Mehta told ET, when asked if non-telco PSUs would file review petitions against the order. The October 24 ruling had expanded the scope of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) on which telecom licence holders need to pay the fee to the government.
“The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the review petition is the last straw in contributing to financial distress and it remains to be seen whether the industry will be able to recover from this setback,” Rajan S Mathews, Director General of the Cellular Operators of India (COAI) said.
Among the three access service providers, Reliance Jio added the highest number of 5.6 million wireless subscribers, while Bharti Airtel saw a nominal net addition of 1.6 million, according to subscriber data for November 2019 released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday.
“While respecting the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision, we would like to express our disappointment as we believe the long standing disputes raised regarding the AGR definition were bonafide and genuine,” Airtel said in a statement.
The Supreme Court has rejected Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airteland Tata Teleservices plea to review its October 24 verdict widening the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to leave the three telcos collectively facing over a whopping Rs 1.02 lakh-crore in additional licence fees, spectrum usage charge (SUC), penalties and interest.
Both Vodafone Idea and Airtel have submitted their applications with Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and ZTE, while Reliance Jio has submitted an application for trial with Korea’s Samsung, which is also the sole gear vendor for its pan-India 4G network. State-run telco BSNL, on the other hand, has submitted the application with ZTE only for trials.